Chapter 15 – Mistake (1)
I visited the art college Hye-yeon Jin attended. But her name is not on the school register for the year you mentioned.
Really? Did you try enough for sure?
I’ve checked through all the departments meticulously, but there’s no mention of her. Just in case she enrolled in a different year, I looked through the list of graduates for the last five years too. There is no such name, nothing even similar. By the way, how did you know about her school? I don’t think you did any background check on Hye-yeon Jin.
She’d accidentally mentioned it once. There’s no reason to lie. Why are you suddenly curious about that?
There’s a few moments of silence from the other end. Then, at the words that Jin-wook said next, Tae-jun’s breath stilled.
The woman we are looking for may not be Hye-yeon Jin.
I can’t give you any more details because I still have things to check. I will be heading to Jinseong City to find people close to her family, former employees of Hotel Jinseong and anyone who was remotely associated with the Jins. This is the best I can do for now.
Death–fake, school–fake, identity–fake… Tae-jun laughed at the thought that he knew nothing about Hye-yeon Jin. He had spent a whole year with this woman, one whole year… and he still knew absolutely nothing!
What we had… was that fake too? Bitterness wreathed his heart, he felt an ineffable pain.
Just like him, she especially loved the chicken and chives dumplings from Seohwadang. Though, unlike his ravenous appetite, she nibbled like a bird. Every time she ate them, her eyes shone with a glint of unusual happiness.
For a whole year, they had lived under the same roof, breathed the same air. And a year is not a short time to know someone. No! She was definitely not a stranger to him.
He genuinely fell for the woman—far from his original intention of using her for her body alone. And until this very moment, he still was hopelessly in love with her.
It was not like he knew nothing about her. In fact, he did know quite a lot about her. Her likes, habits, the books she read, the food she loved and even her favorite brand of ice cream… how she sought warmth in his embraces, the sounds she made when he touched her, her joy and smiles, tears and despair… he knew them all. Yes, he knew her.
Unbeknownst to her, Tae-jun also knew that she drew sketches of him while he was asleep. Whenever she’s not around, he would look them over.
It was not until now that he realized that there were still a lot of things he didn’t know about Hye-yeon. What he knew about her, wouldn’t help in finding her. And what he ought to have known, was thoroughly concealed from him.
It was his manager, Mr. Lee’s troubled voice that pulled him from his reverie. They were already on the ground floor but the other seemed hesitant about getting off the elevator.
“What’s the matter?”
“I’m sorry. I think I left the documents given by the head of Seoin Food upstairs.”
Tae-jun’s eyebrows shot up. He glared at Mr. Lee and turned on his heels.
“You have five minutes. I’ll wait in the car.”
Five minutes was too short to make it, but Mr. Lee couldn’t dare to complain about it. Instead, he hurriedly pressed the button of the elevator again, intending to reach the head director’s office in the briefest time.
Darn those dumplings!!!
He was merrily stuffing one in his mouth, when who knew his capricious boss would suddenly decide to leave. It was too hot and had even burned his palate. Distracted by the pain and his boss rushing him to head out immediately, he forgot the important documents behind. Hence, he was in this position—muttering curses under his breath as the seconds swiftly ticked by.
Fortunately, Secretary Kim had noticed the papers he left behind and brought them to the lobby on the first floor. When he received her call and even before she could finish his words, he had already wedged his arms between the closing elevator doors to keep it from closing.
Hence, sensing the sudden obstruction, the door of the elevator opened wide again. Wasting no time, Mr. Lee dashed out. However, in his haste, his shirt suddenly hooked on to something on the bag of a woman standing just outside the elevator.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I’m in a bit of a hurry.” He apologized profusely, glancing at the woman’s face before heading off.
He hurriedly wrested his arm away from the woman’s bag and darted towards the lobby. The sound of his shirt tearing was quite loud, and the woman heard it too. She looked on at the rushing figure in perplexion. However, the sprinting figure couldn’t afford to care about his ruined shirt–after all, he was racing against time.
He found Kim, took the documents, shot her a flying thank you, and ran towards the nearest emergency exit. He didn’t waste time waiting for the elevator and instead took the fastest route to the parking lot. Climbing down two steps at a time, huffing and puffing, he made it to his destination.
As he opened the rear door, he saw Tae-jun looking at his watch as if he had been waiting for a long long time.
“Exactly five minutes.”
At those words, Mr. Lee, who was granted a new lease of life, heaved a sigh of relief. Sweating and breathing raggedly, he handed the documents to Tae-jun and sat beside him, closing the door as he did so. But, something he didn’t expect happened in a flash.
Tae-jun’s serene face morphed into a look of agitation and he grabbed Mr. Lee’s wrist which catapulted his body to Tae-jun’s enormous build. Mr. Lee gasped, eyes widened in shock.
Perhaps, if this scene transpired between two people of the opposite gender, it might appear romantic. But for him, who was terrified, he felt nothing less than fear. If anything, more fear.
“What is this?” Tae-jun pointed to his cuff.
Mr. Lee frowned as he saw something stuck on it. He took it off with a surprised face. Looking closely, it was an ornament made of agate stone.
Only then did his encounter with a woman back in the elevator resurfaced in his mind. There was no doubt that she was the owner.
“This is a bag embellishment.”
“Why is it with you?”
“My sleeve got caught in a lady’s bag when I hopped out of the elevator in a frenzy. She was carrying quite a multi-decorated bag, I remember. This is definitely hers.” Mr. Lee explained as he gazed at the colorful ornament.
It was an unusual ornament, reflecting its equally unusual owner. She was a tall and beautiful lady, but her eyes looked cold, devoid of any light when she lifted her gaze to meet his.
Suddenly, Tae-jun froze—the expression on his face becoming ten times more serious than when Mr. Lee said he left the documents.